Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Pan Trilogy - Part 2

Last Wednesday featured an excerpt from The Trials of Jonathan Darling, the first book in Fionnegan Justus Murphy and Michael Winkler's The Pan Trilogy, a re-imagining of J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. Today's two excerpts are from the trilogy's second book, Michael's Ascent.

 Excerpts from Michael's Ascent
co-written by Fionnegan Justus Murphy and Michael Winkler
     John’s mind raced with panic induced adrenaline.  He immediately set to work trying to figure out other ways to return to Neverland without flying, but each idea seemed more stupid than the last.  What was he going to tell Mom and Dad? 
    “Please come take me back,” Wendy droned on, laying sideways on her bed, her eyes still stuck staring out the window.
    “Shut up, Wendy!” John shouted.  “Didn’t you see any of that?  Can’t you see anything?  He lied to you, Wendy!  He lied to all of us.”
    Wendy’s stare continued.  She heard only the wind through the trees, the laughter of the Lost Boys as they cut through the pirates, and the soft curve of Peter’s voice crowing in her memory.  She could not see her room; she did not hear the window shatter or her brother’s cries in the night.  Nothing else existed for Wendy, only Pan.  She could only replay the wonderful times she had with Peter Pan, the love of her life.  Her chest felt tight with longing as something powerful spun webs of longing inside her.
    “I’ll wait right here for you.  I’ll wait fore-“
    “WENDY!” John shouted again, this time taking her by the shoulders and shaking her.  “He’s brainwashed you and his little bitch has taken Michael!  Stop talking to him!  Stop thinking about him!”
    The door of their bedroom swung open and Melissa hurried in with Nana in tow. 
    “Jonathan!” she shouted, “Let go of your sister!”
    John and his sister almost died, his brother may have been dying that instant and Wendy was singing the praises of his murderer.  Melissa’s order fell on a mind too overrun with urgency to make sense of the sound.  Only when Nana pounced on him did he returned to himself.  Wendy kept her gaze out the window.
    “What’s going on in here?!  Jonathan, why are you so dirty, and what happened to your pajamas?”
    John fumbled for an explanation, but nothing sounded real anymore.  Wendy’s murmurs faded to the forefront of action in the otherwise still room as Melissa waited for a response from John.  She turned toward Wendy to hear what she had to say and caught sight of the dark brown bloodstain down the front of Wendy’s pajamas.
    “Oh my goodness, Wendy!  What happened to you?”  she scurried to her and inspected the girl.
    “John, what did you do to her?” 
    It all came flooding back to him.  Peter’s spells were being peeled away like layers of wrapping paper and for the first time since it happened Jonathan remembered clearly. 
    Wendy was shot.
    Wendy died. 
    A wall inside of John was overrun and demolished with emotions.  His knees buckled and he sat hard on the floor, burying his face in his arms folded on top of his knees.  The sobs came out slow at first, but each one pulled out more memories and the sobs became louder.  
    Melissa ran from the room, but Nana stayed.  She sat down beside Wendy’s bed, facing John, making sure to stay between the two children.  Wendy’s hand slowly twirled its fingers around in Nana’s long hair.  Three of her fingertips scratched down to Nana’s skin, which Nana appreciated, while Wendy’s pinky did nothing more than swirl the hair around, still stuck inside the thimble, keeping half of Pan’s talents, magic, and essence locked inside.
    The room was silent.  Sounds of the occasional car passing three stories below intruded on the bedroom through the shattered window and the unmistakable jingle of a toy store commercial came wafting in through the open door, trespassing on their heavy memories.  When Melissa returned she was talking into the telephone.
    “I don’t know, he wasn’t doing anything.  John was shaking Wendy and she has a huge stain on her shirt.  They both look like they’ve been living on the streets.  Their clothes are ruined and their faces are filthy.” She went to Michael’s bed, which John was leaning against, and she gasped. 
    “Where’s Michael?” there was no answer, “John!  Wendy!  Where’s Michael?”
    John was caught up in his memories and Wendy was caught by something stronger.  She just kept mumbling while she looked out the window.  Melissa followed her gaze this time and noticed something out of place.  The window was shattered.
    A gasp escaped Melissa as she ran to the broken and opened window, dropping the phone on the floor.
    “Michael!” she screamed.
    “Michael,” John whispered into his arms.

    Wendy carelessly flung the door closed behind her and sat down at the desk in her room.  She could hear the bass from the band at the bar bumping through the floorboards.  Her break was only fifteen minutes, but that was all the time she needed. 
    Her room wasn’t anything special, just a spare bedroom in the apartment above the bar where she worked.  She had lived there since her parents kicked her out of their house about three years ago.  Her window faced the direction of her childhood home, a detail for which she was immensely grateful.  At night she would stare out of the open window at the top of her old house, hoping to catch a glimpse of him returning. 
    She worked the weekend shift in exchange for the room and whatever tips she earned.  Mitch was always telling her that she could earn way more tips if she’d just unbutton one more button or roll her shirt up a little bit, but Wendy’s devotion to Peter had grown so solid that she was not even interested in trying. 
    She only tolerated Mitch because he gave her a deal on the drugs.  His candy gave her the best dreams she’d ever been able to get since she was actually there.  Everything was so vivid that she forgot ever being home, and those little respites were worth whatever price, even faking it with Mitch.
    Wendy pulled out the plastic sandwich bag from her pocket and took a white pill and scrounged around for the last blue capsule.  She held the pills in her open palm, trying to remember how she felt when he put the thimble on her finger so many years ago.  The thimble now was completely smooth in places that once had been covered in tiny dimples.  With a very practiced motion, she tossed the pills down her throat and instinctively started keeping time with the band by tapping her thimble on the desktop. 
    For a minute or two, that’s all that seemed to happen.  Then, finally, the thimble began to spark with each tap.  A smile crept onto Wendy’s face.  She got up from the desk and followed the sparkling Tinkerbell that somehow sprung out of the thimble.  She was always just out of reach and lead Wendy back downstairs, where she tried to appear sober, but when she got to the bottom of the stairs the thimble was pouring sparks out of the end and Wendy could not help wielding it like a sparkler during the Fourth of July in time with the band on stage.  She was the most radiant conductor the world had ever seen and the band appreciated her so much.
    She resumed her position behind the bar and that’s when he came in, floating on top of someone’s cigarette smoke.  He swam to her and kissed her full on the lips.  He tasted like a spring breeze and his hands were rough and reassuring on the back of her neck.  When he pulled away she felt cool dirt under her feet.  Moss started to spread up and over the bar. 
    “What’s all this, Wendy?”
    “Those are the ingredients to the drinks I mix for people.”
    “They’re so colorful!”
    Someone said something to her from across the bar.
    “One second,” she replied instinctively and turned back to the shelves of liquors behind her, still trying to seem sober while also trying to enjoy her trip. 
    “Mix this one with this one, Wendy!  And add some of the green one!”
    Wendy poured mixture upon mixture, sliding glass after glass back onto the bar.  Until eventually her laugh and Peter’s instructions drowned out the customers, leaving her alone once again with him. 

©Fionnegan Justus Murphy

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